The 10,000 square foot International Microbiome Centre at the University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine opened this week. It has been in the works for almost 2 years, and for researchers the $12 million facility has been worth the wait. There are very few germ-free centres in the world and this is the only one that incorporates live cellular imaging.
The microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria, parasites, viruses, and other microorganism that live inside (and on) people and animals. They interact with our immune system and when the balance and the interaction goes wrong it can lead to a host of problems including autoimmune diseases, allergies, inflammatory diseases, and cancer. However we don't understand exactly how that interaction works, and that is where this new facility comes in.
Researchers can work there to study the effects of changes to the microbiome under highly controlled conditions or gnotobiotic (nōdōbīˈädik) conditions.
When staff and researchers enter the facility they have to shower and put on sterile garments and once they are in, there is no turning back, except to follow the one-way traffic flow to the exit. We were able to take a tour before it was cleaned and sterilized, and the equipment all put in and operational.
In part 3 of our 360º tour, the centre's director Dr. Kathy McCoy walks us through an area she said is like a big 'biological safety cabinet' where sterile embryo transfer takes place and she explains some of the procedures in place to ensure contaminations can be isolated.
We built these 360 degree videos to be playable on all devices so you can look around the room while listening to Kathy McCoy explain more about the facility.
If you encounter any problems viewing from our website just click on the YouTube link and watch it directly from there.
If you haven't seem them yet, you should also check parts 1 and 2 of the IMC tour series.